Category Archives: Musings

Nicaragua

I recently returned to Nicaragua to welcome 2018 and take advantage of the world-class waves, constant offshore winds, and diverse landscape and culture. Again, I was not disappointed. I would keep my mouth shut it if it were not for the fact that Nicaragua is now regularly featured on travel sites like the New York Times. Gringos are not the only ones carving it in to the next Costa Rica. Nicaraguan investors know what kind of assets they have at their disposal.

Nicaragua has in fact been exploited since the Spanish arrived in 1522. The usual pillaging and plundering, along with the circulation of small pox, did a number on the Chorotega. Nevertheless, the contributions of the Spanish are still appreciated today. Granada is a charming colonial city reflecting the Spanish-Moorish architecture of the time. They also constructed the San Pablo Fort to protect Granada from pirates in 1789, and it can still be visited via boat.

Later on in the 1800s a dubious character from Nashville, Tennessee by the name of William Walker did significant damage on his filibustering campaigns in Central America. Not only did he burn Granada to the ground, but he also poisoned the wells with dead bodies that spread Cholera and killed some 10,000 Nicaraguans and Costa Ricans. Walker eventually paid for his actions when he found himself in front of a firing squad in Honduras.

Fortunately, Granada has time and again picked itself up and rebuilt. Before the Panama canal was constructed this was the shortest distance from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Cornelius Vanderbilt would steam up the San Juan River in to Lago de Nicaragua, and then make the short transport over to San Juan del Sur area on the coast of the Pacific. This route pumped money in to Granada and helped it to recover.

A few things you must do in Granada:

  1. Visit the San Francisco Convent to see the statuaries that have been excavated from Zapatera and Ometepe. A couple of these guys are in the Smithsonian, but you can see 30 of them all together in the same room. Each one represents the leader of the time, so they all have their own personalities. This is a highly informative account of their origins.
  2. Check out Mi Museo where there are many artifacts from Pre-Columbian times. It also helped me to understand where the Chorotega came from and when.
  3. Take a boat tour out to Las Isletas. These islands are a result of a massive explosion from Mombacho. Lots of wildlife, and you get to see the San Pablo Fort.
  4. Visit Volcan Masaya at night to see lava pouring from the crater. You definitely want to get there early to avoid waiting in line, but it is worth it.
  5. Tour the coffee plantation on Mombacho and then hike out to the stunning views of Granada and Lago de Nicaragua.
  6. If you still have time then head over to Pueblo Blancos to see local artisans at work. You will save yourself some money, for the shops around Granada certainly mark their prices up.

There are a couple of reasons why Nicaragua is safer than say El Salvador, Colombia, or Honduras. After the Nicaraguan Revolution, the country created a democratic police state in that each community would have at least one dedicated police officer that everyone knew. A bad apple arises, and they deal with the issue quickly. Second, drugs from Colombia and elsewhere go up the Caribbean side, so there are no cartels in the Pacific region.

Still, I wouldn’t drive at night. But during the day I generally went wherever I wanted. In the dry season you can get a way with a 2-wheel drive vehicle. But if the price is not much different then go with 4-wheel. I did end up using it along the coast to drive a section of road that terminated on beach front. It also gave me more confidence on dirt roads with potholes and stream crossings. In short, you are not limited and instead prepared for anything.

I’d tell you more about the surf breaks, but I just can’t do it. You’ll find it somewhere else. 😉

But I will tell you that I look forward to returning soon.

Southern Charm

My most recent video production is the culmination of many other supporting video projects that have taken me across the state of Georgia, and behind-the-scenes of some incredible companies, over the past 5 years. In essence, I took a limited budget and made it in to a $250k production.

But I could not have done it without the great guys that make up the band, The Quiet Hounds. Their talent and genuine personalities carry the diverse scenes that are tightly edited to inform the next scene, and the next scene, and so on. I feel lucky to have been able to ink a sync agreement with them for this perfect song. I followed them to Athens, Georgia to record the live performance at the Georgia Theatre, and we spent a long night together at a recording studio in Midtown Atlanta. It has been a pleasure getting to know them.

How do you encapsulate an entire state in one video and do it well? That was indeed part of the challenge. I knew it could not be everything to everyone. Sure, there were sacrifices and difficult decisions along the way. But positive emotion is the great equalizer.

The video is now featured on Georgia.org and its affiliated social media properties – at all the Visitor Information Centers across the state – and baggage claim in the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

I hope this experience provides you with a taste of the authenticity, beauty, diversity and “southern charm” that I have come to find in Georgia . I feel it. The band feels it. Georgians feel it. I hope you do as well.

Do me a favor. Pop the video full screen and turn up your speakers.

A special thanks to the Quiet Hounds for lending their creativity, time and music to this piece.

“Southern Charm” Lyrics

All the gardenia on the sideway dropping like they want you.
I’m a believer on the highway when they’re playing our tune
driving up slowly though the gravel nothing stopping Sunday
Summer love songing in my longing we can do this our way

Hot city you are mine

Storms on your shoulder and I call it Paradise
Everyone knows this thunder only means bright lights for us

Hot city you are mine
So pretty on my arm

Hot city you are mine
So pretty on my arm
Tell me that you’ll make this rainstorm ours
make it ours
dancing through the black night
Hot city you are mine
Oh say that you are mine
This is where my southern charm will lye

This city home, this home is you, you are my summer love song
how do you do it, how do you make it hum
My heart is warm, my blood is red, this sweat is all I have to make it up to you, make it up to you, love.

Get the Song

Southern Charm

Behind-the-Scenes

Have Kids Will Travel

Life has changed. Vacations no longer consist of sitting idly by the pool, or packing a nice, light bag solely meant for me.

There is no:

  • Why don’t I spend a bunch of time setting up this super artful photograph?
  • Gosh, that was such a great ski line, why don’t we hike up the mountain and do it again?
  • Man, I have been surfing for hours. Let’s go and chill on the beach with a beer.
  • Hey, let’s grab our kayaks and disappear for a few days down this super dangerous river where there is no cell reception!

You never know how much doing you are going to do when you say, I do, right? Now I have two young boys and life is very different.

When my first son was born a good friend said, “Welcome to manhood.” He couldn’t have been more right. Kids are the real test of will and perseverance. I swear every time I hear the word, “Dad,” another hair pops off my head.

But it is exactly what the freewheeling, fun-soaked, and child-free folks often hear from a subservient procreator like me….

It’s so rewarding.

Life is more challenging, and some days I feel like I’m walking around with my pant pockets turned inside out. But what a thrill to play witness and direction to my two boy’s endless discoveries. Here a just a few precious moments from this new adventure.

Click any image to view the gallery.

The Light of the Lowcountry

I captured the above image in the direct sun of the afternoon by raising the f-stop up along with the shutter speed to cut the glare and sharpen the contrast. It reminds me of my youth when I would spend countless hours in the water idly passing the dog days of summer by with nary a care in the world. My how things change!

Click here to see the full image.

Thanksgiving in Charleston

Fall light in the woods

Camouflaged patience

Leaves crackle in anticipation

Rain on the coast

Wetsuit feels like armor

Grey waves carry ageless friends to shore

Wood smoke on my sweater

Oyster shells lay empty on the table

Blue crabs whistle in the boil

Food and family laugh in story

Thankful to be together

Charleston stretches out the front door

Photography

Despite being a father and a working professional, I still enjoy playing around with photography when I can.

I took a recent course at Piedmont Park focused on lighting. Plenty of factors to consider, much of it requiring more gear than I care to sport around. But if you want to expand your knowledge and live in and around Atlanta, check out Mike Moreland. He brings the models and the gear, and you’ll certainly learn a few tricks. The true art though – in my humble opinion – is directing the model in the context of the scene.

Yes, I got these:

But I actually like this one – no light and off the cuff.

Rock

I can’t pretend to know for sure, but for me it encapsulates what I think many black men, especially in Ferguson, feel about the world around them. Want to get a greater appreciation? Hit the new Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta. We’ve come a long way, but there is still work to be done.

Family

Wow, I’m 40. Chased a few dreams, found one or two. But nothing compares to my wife and two boys. Houston will soon be 6, and Heyward is approaching 6 months. They all recently joined me on the trail for a great 10 mile hike. My birthday wish is for more time by the fire as we share a common respect for the world around us and plans for the next adventure.

Collaboration

Male Bluebirds

This is a bird box in my backyard where a pair of bluebirds are nesting. I am quite familiar with the male and female, but over the weekend I noticed the presence of another male. After watching a little further I noticed the one male helping the other with gathering food for the chicks. I thought that was a little odd. Turns out that when young males can’t find a mate they help their parents.

Expressions

I get around with my camera, and there is no shortage of expressions to be captured.

Red

Having fun with some of my photos that pop with red. Click on the images to launch the carousel.